College amps up patrol at Ledyard

by Phil Salinger | 7/13/06 5:00am

As students enjoy lazy summer days in kayaks and canoes floating on the Connecticut River, the nearby Ledyard Canoe Club dock remains empty of the usual swimmers known to frequent the popular area during the summer.

Although technically not permitted by College regulation, on any sunny day before this Summer term, it was often crowded with students swimming around the Ledyard dock, sunbathing on it or enjoying the Club facilities.

During the interim between Spring and Summer terms, Safety and Security began rigorously enforcing the regulations preventing students from using the Ledyard dock for purposes other than canoeing, kayaking or other sponsored water sports, members of Ledyard said.

Ledyard's Senior Summer Director Mike Holliday '07, who has lived at the organization's riverside house during two previous summers, said that Safety and Security officers appear to have made a concerted effort to increase their vigilance at the dock this summer.

"Before they would come down occasionally, maybe once a week or so, but it seems like this year they've definitely amped it up a bit," he said, adding that officers tend to come to the dock a few times a day this summer, and even more often on weekends.

College Proctor Harry Kinne confirmed that Safety and Security has made a point to keep closer tabs on unauthorized swimmers, saying it was the result of last summer's nighttime drowning of a non-College student in the Tuck Bridge program. Kinne said that the office's motivation has been to ensure students' safety, not to ruin their fun.

"We just want to make sure that we don't have another tragedy," he said. "People overestimate their abilities and underestimate the [river's] current."

According to Addie Smith '07, who was on campus last summer and is in Hanover again this summer, Safety and Security increased their surveillance of the dock after the drowning death, but even their presence at the end of last summer was not as great as it has been this summer.

Despite the reports of students such as Holliday and Smith, Kinne denied that Safety and Security's prominence at the dock is new this summer. He said that the increased number of students at the Ledyard dock also has caused Safety and Security to heighten its presence.

Students are permitted, however, to swim in the lifeguard-supervised designated swimming area between the Rowing Boathouse Dock and Ledyard Bridge before 7 p.m.

"We're not trying to discourage people from using the river, it's very much part of Dartmouth," Kinne said.

Many students reported that Safety and Security officers seem to not enjoy enforcing the rule, often telling students to go upstream 25 to 75 meters where College property ends and Safety and Security does not have jurisdiction.

Zack Dorner '08 said that an officer who told him he could not swim at the Ledyard dock suggested that he swim off College property.

According to Dorner, the officer told him to take the path past the Tom Dent Cabin into the woods and enter the river there.

Kinne said that such suggestions are against Safety and Security policy.

"If in fact that [suggestion] did occur, the officer made a mistake," he said.

Safety and Security has also asked those working at Ledyard's desk to monitor their dock, ask people not to swim there and inform Safety and Security if students do go into the river at any time -- day or night.

According to Kinne, students who fail to report others' violations face neither repercussions from the College nor the scorn of Safety and Security, but members of Ledayard have had a different experience.

Smith said that officers have been angry with Ledyard Director Anna Schumacher '09 for failing to ask students not to swim from the dock.

"S&S came to her several times over interim [between Spring and Summer terms} and talked to her sternly about enforcing the rules," she said.

The added watch of Safety and Security comes at about the same time as the changing of the guard in the Office of the Dean of the College, to which Safety and Security directly reports.

But according to Kinne, the changes were the decision of Safety and Security, not the dean of the College.

Acting Dean of the College Dan Nelson was unavailable for comment.

Regardless of who is responsible for the change, the inability to swim in the river outside of the designated area has been disappointing to some.

"There's a lot of people who are very competent swimmers who like to do more than swim around in the little pen," Smith said, "and that's a risk they should be able to take themselves."

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